Melika Dannese Lux brings a tale in City of Lights that is like opening night on the stage. The velvet curtains draw and a dramatic story of romance, heartbreak, and murderous intentions ensue. Her writing moves along like we are watching a play or an opera. It’s full of enough vigor you might think you are taking part in a fast-moving stage production such as Phantom of the Opera. I felt that full onstage theater effect can be visualized with this novel, including scene changes, giving us entertainment straight from 1894 France.
As one major turmoil after the other is quickly unfolded we are drawn immediately into the story and begin to understand Lux’s French protagonist Illyse Charpentier, otherwise known as Diva of the Paris stage. Life is hard behind the curtains, with countless hours of hard work for little prestige or money. Along with this lonely existence, she carries a strong resentment toward her rich suitor, Count Sergei Rakmanovich, but when she is thrown by fate into a love for an Englishman with a funny bone, Ian McCarthy, she knows that her world is about to change.
As Illyse’s terrible childhood and reason for becoming a chanteuse comes to light, we can feel her intense pain and her mourning for her family, including her brother, who has since left her life due to the Count’s demands on Illyse. As was common in turn of the century France, these suitors many times kept unhealthy, scandalous, illicit, and controlling ties on performers in exchange for paying for their rent and fame.
As Illyse tries to break that bind, the Count is enraged and the story’s pace leaps even more as we see the twists and turns each person takes in order to get what they want. Will the deep love at first sight between Illyse and Ian win out in the end? You’ll have to read and see for yourself, but you most certainly will find yourself pulling for them.
As I could visualize the Count in a black cape sweeping the back alleys in secret, his minions eavesdropping, I could hear the orchestra’s dark music surrounding me. But I could also feel the bright sections where Illyse’s trials are overcome by the light of true love and simple life of family and respect for herself. Lux descriptive settings and emotional reflection of her characters is magnificent.
With details dripping in scandal, a musical score you’ll be playing in your head, and a woman fighting for her love, life, dreams, and family, you’ll not want to miss out on reading this concise dramatic tale.
I recommend that you pick up City of Lights, choose one night that you have a chance to settle in with some wine, then picture yourself reading at a quaint table under the decadent lights of the Eiffel Tower……just be sure to look over your shoulder to see if the Count is peering at you of course.
PLEASE COME BY AGAIN ON FRIDAY, APRIL 12, 2013!! We discuss life in the Parisian entertainment industry in the late 1800s, women in history, and why she chose writing over sharks!
City of Lights: The Trials and Triumphs of Illyse Charpentier, Synopsis~
Publication Date: October 23, 2012
Books in My Belfry, LLC
What would you risk for the love of a stranger?
Ilyse Charpentier, a beautiful young chanteuse, is the diva of the 1894 Parisian cabaret scene by night and the unwilling obsession of her patron, Count Sergei Rakmanovich, at every other waking moment.
Though it has always been her secret desire, Ilyse’s life as “La Petite Coquette” of the Paris stage has turned out to be anything but the glamorous existence she had dreamt of as a girl. As a young woman, Ilyse has already suffered tragedy and become estranged from her beloved brother, Maurice, who blames her for allowing the Count to drive them apart.
Unhappy and alone, Ilyse forces herself to banish all thoughts of independence until the night Ian McCarthy waltzes into her life. Immediately taken with the bold, young, British expatriate, Ilyse knows it is time to choose: will she break free and follow her heart or will she remain a slave to her patron’s jealous wrath for the rest of her life?
Praise for City of Lights
“This debut novel about the extraordinary chanteuse Ilyse Charpentier is as irresistible as a glass of champagne by the Seine. Combining romance, adventure, and the crystalline lights of a bygone era, this sparkling tale sweeps the reader into the foibles and glamour of 19th century Paris, and the bold heart of a woman who must risk everything for love. Ms. Lux enchants with her talent; I’m looking forward to reading more from this lovely young writer.”
– C. W. Gortner, bestselling author of The Last Queen, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici, The Tudor Secret, and The Queen’s Vow
“City of Lights: The Trials and Triumphs of Ilyse Charpentier is a triumph for its young author. You are immediately pulled into this debut novel and held there by the breathtaking pace set by Miss Lux. It is the story of chanteuse, Ilyse Charpentier, who has had more heartache than a 21-year old should have to bear: the death of her parents in a ship accident; abuse at the hand of her guardian; and estrangement from her beloved brother because of a misunderstanding. Lifted out of poverty by her patron, Count Sergei Rakmanovich, she becomes the darling of the 1894 Parisian cabaret scene, but the count’s patronage comes with a price: his desire to possess her, mind, body and soul.
This is a remarkable debut, especially when you consider that the novelist is very near to the age of her heroine. Her broad knowledge of history and the arts is evident, and her enthusiasm for her subject leaps off of every page. A spectacular first effort.”
– Mary L. Simonsen, author of Searching for Pemberley, A Wife for Mr. Darcy, and numerous other bestsellers
Melika Dannese Lux, Biography~
I write historical fiction, suspense, supernatural thrillers, horror, fantasy, sci-fi, short stories—you name it, I write it! I love to read just about anything and everything and am particularly fond of historical fiction, the classics, mysteries, epic fantasy, history, and non-fiction. I am also a classically trained soprano/violinist/pianist and have been performing since the age of three. Additionally, I hold a BA in Management and an MBA in Marketing.
I am a HUGE fan of Psych, most British drama, comedy, and mystery shows, and am always up for a movie quote challenge. Jaws is my favorite movie of all time, with The Lord of the Rings being a very close second. Tell me something about yourself, and I’ll most probably be able to “Six Degrees of Separation” it back to Gandalf.
Lastly, I love to spend time with my family and friends, and I absolutely adore traveling. Not only is it great to experience other cultures, but travelling expands my horizons as a writer and sets my imagination reeling with a million different ideas for stories. If I hadn’t decided to become a writer (And there’s a Gandalf story for that, too.), I would have become a marine biologist, but after countless years spent watching Shark Week, I realized I’m very attached to my arms and legs and would rather write sharks into my stories than get up close and personal with those toothy wonders.
I am currently working on the sequel to my supernatural thriller/historical novel Corcitura, a collection of comedy/horror/fantasy stories set in Eastern Europe in the 1800s, and the first book of a planned fantasy duology. To learn more, please visit www.booksinmybelfry.com.
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